A crack at the Cateran Trail

I chose the Cateran Trail, which is divided between Perthshire & Angus, for my next backpacking trip, partly because it looks to be a fine route, but also because this area was my introduction to central Scotland some years ago.

The Cateran Trail is a 65 mile / 104km circular route which includes Strathardle as well as parts of Glen Shee and Glen Isla. The route is named after the bands of cattle thieves known as Caterans who previously brought terror to these glens.

Cateran Trail
Cateran Trail, Perthshire and Angus courtesy of Walkhighlands and Ordnance Survey ©

The Strathardle section I backpacked between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael contains all the different types of terrain which this area is known for; various types of woodland, untamed heather moorland, rolling farmland pastures, and many burns feeding into the Ericht and Ardle rivers. You can read the trip report at Pitcarmick under the camping section.

Unfortunately for me, a recent event on the trail had left it a bit muddy. If I had worn my boots and taken my gaiters, it would have improved things, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Anyway here are a few photos of the varied section between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael, which included a camp at Pitcarmick, to give you an idea of the route.

River Ericht
River Ericht near Blairgowrie
Lornty Burn
Farmland near Lornty Burn
Pitcarmick Burn
Pitcarmick Burn

These pictures give some indication of how lovely the trail is, but avoid the mud underfoot. At this point it began to rain heavily, so I pitched the tent quite early to dry out. Apologies if I should not have camped in this site but it was an unplanned decision brought about by the weather.

Drying out
Drying out in the Duomid

I continued my hike the following morning down the lovely, verdant country lanes into Kirkmichael for a much needed hot breakfast. There I decided to return to this trail when it has had the chance to recover, and I can focus more on the lovely countryside and less on where I am putting my feet.

Caves, carvings and crags

As well as the geographical posts which focus on a particular area or valley, I have been gradually creating themed walk collections from my Northumberland routes which I can add to as and when. Sometimes it is interesting to focus on one aspect or feature of an area, which can then be done as a group. So far there are walk collections in the Northumberland section featuring the coast, castles, waterfalls and short walks.

I’ve always had a soft spot for a sacred place or a cave, so my latest collection Sacred Sites features some of my personal favourite geological, historical and archaeological places in Northumberland with links to GPS files.

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Clockwise: Roughting Linn Rock Art, St Cuthbert’s Cave, McCartney’s Cave, Simonside Hills

I am gradually adding more maps, data sheets and GPX links to all my posts. I hope you will enjoy these moderate walks which are all lovely in different ways.

Short and sweet

I have listed a selection of six of my favourite easy short walks (under 5 miles long) in Northumberland, hand picked because they contain some lovely places. Take your pick from castles, waterfalls, grey seals, St Cuthbert’s Chapel, puffins, scheduled ancient monuments, salmon fishermen and pristine beaches on walks which are suitable for all the family. They all have easy parking and facilities such as pubs, cafes and shops nearby, details of which are included on the page. Take a look at Six Shorts in the Northumberland section.

6 short walks in Northumberland
6 short walks in Northumberland

Beside the seaside

In an effort to create some themed sets of walks, I have added a set of 5 Seaside Strolls to my Northumberland section. The walks feature the Northumbrian coastal islands of the Farnes and Holy Island, parts of the Northumberland Coast AONB and the 65 mile Northumberland Coast Path. They are all possible for most of the year, all have nearby facilities, and are all at the leisurely end of the walk grades. They feature a beach hut hamlet, wildlife, churches, castles, wartime remains, listed buildings, nature reserves, kipper smokehouses and the ever changing North Sea.

Coastal walks, Northumberland
Coastal walks, Northumberland

Waterfall walks in Northumberland

I always enjoy walking by water, as I find it very relaxing, so I thought I’d include a feature on some of the Waterfall Walks in Northumberland. Clockwise in the picture are; Hareshaw Linn in the North Tyne Valley, Linhope Spout in the Breamish Valley, and Hen Hole and Hethpool Linn in the College Valley.

Northumberland often uses the Gaelic word ‘linne’ as Linn, to indicate a pool formed at the base of a waterfall such as Hareshaw Linn and Hethpool Linn. ‘Spout’, also used, is indicative of the physical features of the waterfall. Read up on how to get to these four waterfalls on walks to suit all abilities, each with the reward of a tranquil focal point at which to stop and rest or camp.

Waterfalls in Northumberland.
Waterfalls in Northumberland.

Sprucing things up

As I have been attempting to study for the last year, I have been unable to improve Rucksack Rose much. However now that I am back in the world, I am implementing several plans to spruce things up and show that I have been thinking about it while I was away. To keep you posted these currently include:

  • Creating fresh content
  • Refreshing all the content and some of the pictures on my blog
  • Improving my existing and forthcoming videos.
  • Introducing ways to allow people to offer support
  • Re-establishing contacts and catching up
  • Seeking adventure collaborators and walking companions
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Sprucing things up

Rucksack Rose thoughts:

I am delighted by the popularity of some of my platforms but I recognise that some have been more successful than others. Some social media platforms have simply fallen out of favour in the last 4 years and I try to move with the times without becoming too slavish about it. I am beginning to feel that quality is more important than quantity online which is partly why I am looking at it all afresh.

Blog – Knowing I am niche but realising that I have something worth sharing with other like minded people has been key to creating this blog and profile. I am gradually refreshing all the content and some of the poor quality, older pictures on my blog.

YouTube – It is hard for walking videos to compete with the new generation of Red Bull™ extreme sports type videos on YouTube, so I have tried to create videos which are an antithesis to these and instead show the peacefulness and beauty of walking in wild places. I accept that the quality of my older videos isn’t good due to my poor camera and editing software. I have therefore been working through the old videos to improve their metadata and investing in new software to improve the quality of future videos.

I will be deleting Audioboom and Google Plus.

rravatarsa4
Rucksack Rose – Avatars

Happy Birthday to You

I have just realised that it is the fourth birthday of Rucksack Rosie this week so I just wanted to say that those four years have opened up the unique world of the outdoors to me as a some time solitary walker in the northern Cheviot Hills, a solitary part of the country.

Rucksack Rose - First Avatars
Rucksack Rosie – First Avatars

I guess we all like to feel part of a community and the outdoors community, from the participants to the trail angels and accommodation providers, are mostly a good bunch of people. I recently returned to full time education for a year and attempted to reduce the time I spent on walking and blogging, but I found that I missed it. So Happy Birthday to you and a thanks for supporting me, my blog, and my video walk records, and for sharing your knowledge and experience with me.

Rucksack Rose - Fourth Birthday
Rucksack Rosie – Fourth Birthday

Out There: A Voice from the Wild by Chris Townsend

With a foreword by Cameron McNeish. 

‘Those who decry peak bagging as mere list ticking fail to understand the commitment challenge and pleasure involved. Collecting summits means collecting experiences.’ Chris Townsend.

OUT THERE by Chris Townsend Book Jacket
OUT THERE by Chris Townsend Book Jacket

Drawing from more than forty years’ experience as an outdoorsman, and probably the world’s best known long distance walker who also writes, Chris Townsend describes the landscapes and wildlife, the walkers and climbers, and the authors who have influenced him in his latest lucid and fascinating book. Writing from his home in the heart of the Cairngorms he discusses the vital importance of wild places to our civilisation.


Critical acclaim for Chris Townsend:
‘This is what Chris’ books do. They shake you out of lethargy and install in you that love of the natural world that keeps us all going.’
Andy Howell, Outdoors Blog.
‘In the Scottish outdoor world names occasionally shine like the stars and very quickly fade into the night. Chris Townsend has remained a shining light for well over 35 years, a passionate and inspiring advocate for the wild corners of our land, an enthusiast who literally walks the walk.’
Cameron McNeish.
‘I first met Chris Townsend about thirty years ago cross country ski-ing in the Cairngorms. He is someone who practices what he preaches. Since his becoming a JMT Trustee I have much appreciated his insights and knowledge and he is a great voice for our cause.’
Peter Pearson, Chair of the John Muir Trust.
‘Chris Townsend is the all-around world champion hiking memoirist, guide, photographer, blogger, and techie.’
Ron Strickland, founder of the Pacific Northwest Trail.

Chris Townsend on a ski tour in Yellowstone National Park
Chris Townsend on a ski tour in Yellowstone National Park

About Chris Townsend
Chris Townsend writes regularly for TGO Magazine and has written 22 books on the outdoors, including the award winning The Backpacker’s Handbook; Scotland in Cicerone’s World Mountain Ranges series; Crossing Arizona; the story of an 800 mile walk along the Arizona Trail; Walking the Yukon, the story of 1000 mile walk through the Yukon Territory; The Munros and Tops, the story of his continuous round and A Year In The Life of The Cairngorms, a photographic study. His recent publications with Sandstone Press feature two long-distance walks he undertook in the USA, Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams (2012) and Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles (2014).


http://www.christownsendoutdoors.com/
Press queries: Ruth Killick (publicity@ruthkillick.co.uk

A Tyneside Nanoadventure

This microadventure could more aptly be described as a nanoadventure really. It involved a modest attempt at creating a short route, rather than following somebody else’s route from a book or website. My short tick-list stipulated that it must be local, accessible by public transport and interesting, preferably involving some places I hadn’t been before. The final result is also on YouTube and ViewRanger / Outdooractive now if you would like to give it a go.

For me a great walk should always involve a good beginning and a good finish, rather than just going from Place A to Place B. I opted for going from St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay to North Shields Fish Quay, both notable landmarks on the north east coast which I had never been to before. The distance of my short but varied walk was roughly 5 miles, with plenty to see and do plus some decent cafes and bars – both worthwhile features to incorporate into my walk I decided.

St Mary's Lighthouse
St Mary’s Lighthouse

Traces of history and heritage are everywhere along this stretch of the coast. Tynemouth Castle is located on a rocky promontory overlooking Tynemouth Pier. Apparently the moated towers, gatehouse and keep are combined with the ruins of the Benedictine priory where early kings of Northumbria were buried.

Tynemouth Castle and priory
Tynemouth Castle and priory

Whitley Bay and Tynemouth were formerly popular resorts in the age before international travel became available to ordinary people. Now the fascinating relics of that time have been left to dissolve slowly back into the landscape. There are old paddling pools and swimming pools gradually filling with sand and mud, rotting beach huts and corroded iron railing lining the empty esplanades. At the time of writing, Whitley Bay would almost qualify as an English ghost town.

Remains of an open air swimming pool at Tynemouth
Remains of an open air swimming pool at Tynemouth

I tried to keep away from the roadside development and to stay on the beach and the esplanades, which give a much greater insight into the history of the area. Although the esplanades have faded, I noticed that rock pooling has replaced the rides and candy floss sellers along the coast since I was a child.

Rockpooling on the coast near Whitley Bay
Rockpooling on the coast near Whitley Bay

I carried on past Tynemouth Castle for the first time, and around the corner into the mouth of the River Tyne. This is the main artery of the city in which I was born, but I had actually never visited the mouth of the river.

The mouth of the River Tyne from the north bank near North Shields
The mouth of the River Tyne from the north bank near North Shields

Here the atmosphere imperceptibly changes from faded seaside resort, via a short wooded section, into the modern day hustle and bustle of a busy river, with ferries plying to and fro, a lifeboat station poised for action, fish processing plants, smokehouses and dock buildings gradually increasing in density towards North Shields Fish Quay a mile or so inland.

Heading inland along the banks of the Tyne towards North Shields
Heading inland along the banks of the Tyne towards North Shields

On this short walk through an area which I have taken completely for granted because it is local, I learned a lot about the economic and social past of the area in which I grew up. I also mixed happily with the distant ghosts of childhood trips to the seaside which littered parts of this route for me.

Edinburgh Microadventure

Sometimes in life we have to make the most of where we are, and the time and the resources available to us, and these dictate our adventures more than our daydreams and long term plans. So a couple of days in Edinburgh is to me the equivalent of an expedition to the Matterhorn in terms of the escapism it affords at the moment. As I spent a while living in London, I have learned to appreciate urban walking and green spaces, and how much they can add to the quality of life in a large city.

A recent trip to Edinburgh became an adventure as I decided on the train to finally climb up the crags to Arthur’s Seat, and experience this familiar city from a new angle.

The views across Edinburgh and out onto the Firth of Forth just get better and better as you go, so don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. This walk is written up in Edinburgh Exploits